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10 Ways To Make Living on Minimum Wage More Doable

Updated on September 25, 2016

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 3.6 million American workers earn an income at, or even below minimum wage (1). This means working for $7.25 an hour (federal minimum wage) or as high as $9.32 an hour (highest state minimum wage, in WA)(2). If you are employed at minimum wage, there are a number of things that you can do to spend wisely. It's not just about how much you earn; it's also about how smartly you spend.


1) Use the library. Forget the bookstore, Netflix, Hulu Plus or anything else requiring a subscription for your entertainment. At the library, you will be able to borrow books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs. Some libraries will even allow you to check out a Kindle or an iPad for two or three days. And of course, you get free Internet access. Lastly, ask your librarian for a CityPass, which would allow you to visit museums for free in your area.

2) Craigslist. Check out Craigslist.com and their FREE section in your hometown. There you may be able to find furniture that people are giving away. Other possible finds can include clothing, housewares, blankets etc... If it's the right time of the season, you can also find invitations to pick fresh fruit from trees in people's backyards.

3) Dollar Stores. For household and beauty products, visit stores like the Dollar Tree and Dollar General. While these places may not be the best for food, going to a dollar store can provide a lot of savings for many household products.

4) Insulation. Put plastic sheeting on your windows (on the inside) to create an extra layer of insulation during the winters. You will be able to save a lot of money on your electricity or gas bills.

5) Bulk Food Stores. Visit stores that provide food in bulk. By avoiding prepackaged food items, you're able to save a lot of money, especially in the areas of dried goods such as pastas, rice, and beans.

6) Find free furniture. Visit local office buildings, and check out the furniture there disposing of (usually behind the building, next to the dumpsters...don't be shy!). You can score an office chair or perhaps even a desk. Some offices remodel every few years and will dispose of perfectly good furniture that will make its way to a land fill if you don't get there first.

7) Make free telephone calls with Google Voice (www.google.com/voice) . The system also allows you to obtain a unique telephone number and to receive phone calls and messages in the message box. All you need to do is obtain an account with Google and begin making free phone calls.

8) Buy your clothing at thrift stores. This will allow you to purchase items of clothing for as little as 50 cents a piece. If you compare this to the latest clothing which can go upwards of $25, you're talking substantial savings.

9) Charities. Visit charitable and religious websites such as FoodPantries.org (www.foodpantries.org) for assistance in locating local food pantries, soup kitchens and other non-profit organizations focused on helping families deal with food insecurity.

10) Eating out smart. For people on minimum wage, eating out is never the best option since the costs are often too high. But there are some smart eating out options, if you are not too picky. Go to your local Costco and grab a $1.50 polish hot dog and soda deal with the spare change you find in your car. Or if you are in a larger city, you can get a hearty breakfast at IKEA's cafeteria for 99 cents.

However hard it can be to live with a job paying only a minimum wage salary, it is comforting to know that with just a little planning, you can make those hard earned dollars for further.


(1) http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2012tbls.htm

(2) http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm


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